”I’ve taken a break. Maybe I’ll drink again. Maybe I won’t.” ~ Andy Boyle
At first I just made the decision to not drink for 30 days, which I figured was enough time to get over the break-up and also to see if I could do it. I had been envying people who stopped drinking for various amounts of time, and I now had my chance to experiment with it. I still don’t know if I’m an alcoholic but I know it’s been affecting my life in a negative way, I’ve been drinking abusively, and I’m on a slippery slope, especially with my family history. I honestly didn’t think it would be very difficult because I only drank a few times a week and could go days without it. I am more of a binge drinker; if I drink one I usually keep drinking until I’m very buzzed or drunk. I’m aware this is still alcohol abuse, dangerous, and gets me into trouble. I know the only reason I haven’t “hit bottom” yet was because I’ve been very lucky. I didn’t really have a plan for how I would quit. I figured I’d just avoid going out with my friends and such triggering situations for 30 days, then I would hopefully be strong enough to go back to those situations and drink like a normal person.
For inspiration I started reading the recovery blogs I Fly At Night and Hip Sobriety, written by Laura McKowen and Holly Whitaker. They also have a joint podcast called Home. I started listening to their podcast first thing when I woke up, in my car, and as I fell asleep. I learned that I don’t need to hit bottom or call myself an alcoholic to quit drinking. That if drinking is a problem I’m a problem drinker. That apparently being sober can lead to greater happiness and a rich, full, awake life. That I could still be fun and interesting sober. That no more hangovers is incredible. That the sex is better. That maybe I want to do this forever.
I took their advice and wrote my ‘drinking story’, beginning with the first time I got drunk: I was 11 years old and an 18 year old guy I’d met at the beach came to my house with a 40 ouncer of Colt 45 after my mom left for her night shift. I drank it, threw up in the sink, and he had sex with me. The rest of my middle school and high school years is a blur of alcohol, cocaine, acid, mushrooms, and sex. I met my husband in a bar in Tijuana at 18 years old, and we settled into marriage, college, and having babies. But although I barely drank for the 20 years of my marriage, when it ended I quickly picked up where I’d left off at 18 years old; within months I was binging so hard I had puked all over my friend’s bathroom, driven drunk, passed out in the gutter in front of a dive bar, and hit on a best friend’s boyfriend.
I’m not sure for how long I will stop drinking. I’m committing to 30 days, with the option to increase it to 6 months, a year, forever. I may decide to experiment with drinking again to be sure. I don’t want to quit drinking forever. I’m afraid my friendships will change. I’m afraid I have social anxiety without it and will isolate. I’m afraid of what dating will look like, I’m afraid of first-time sober sex. I’m afraid of special occasions, New Years Eve, friends’ birthdays.
If I can’t do it will it mean I’m an alcoholic? Then everyone will know, and I can never go back. But the truth is, in all the blogs and podcasts I’ve been immersed in this week, such bumps can be part of the path and growth process. Some people need to drink again to be certain they have a problem. And of course there’s a possibility that I will stop for a while, try again, and find that once I’m in a more stable place I can drink like a normal person. One never knows. If I do drink again I intend to be honest about it here. This blog is about my journey in real-time.
~ from my journal on day 5 ~ i wake in the early morning wondering what i’m doing. what if this not drinking thing is another of my grand ideas like a diet or quitting smoking, and what if i talk myself out of it, next week, or tonight. what if i can’t do this, and if i can’t, what does that mean?
~ from my journal day 8 ~ felt so ansty yesterday…it was rainy and gloomy and I so wanted to go to my bestie’s house and drink wine and play with my new tarot deck… i knew if i did i’d send HIM a stupid text, text another ex, or go on a dating site, and wake up feeling thoroughly disappointed with myself. so i wrote and ate pizza and candy and took a hot hot bubble bath. I WOKE UP SO FUCKING HAPPY AND AT PEACE WITH MYSELF AND SO SO PROUD!!!